So here's the long and short of it: we have eight roosters. Eight. Eight out of our ten little chicks are roosters. Yes, we paid for five sexed hens. Yes, we took our chances on the other five. We figured one or two of the straight run chicks would be hens and we'd have just a few roosters to "process." Boy, it's been an adventure. It's like a soap opera around here and chickens are in all the starring roles.
Let's back up a little. Getting the coop finished was a major project, but once completed we felt that he hard part was over. We were always trying to figure out which of our fowl were boys and which were our future egg layers, but it's much more complicated that one might think. Because we had a variety of breeds we couldn't easily compare them to each other. People say to look at the size of the wattle or comb, check for pointy feathers and listen for the tell tale crow. As our chickens grew and we started to notice that the vast majority of them looked (and sounded) like roosters, we dug deeper into our research. "Yes," said someone on the backyard chickens forum, "I have a hen who crows." Yes, another added, sometimes hens have huge combs. Because we were working with the assumption that we definitely had five hens, it became very hard to discern which were the ladies, because they all seemed like roosters.
When it became too obvious to ignore (and it took us a while to get there), we concluded that we had, in fact, been feeding and caring for our dinner for the past five months. Bummer. Our two little hens were no match for the roosters. We had to eliminate some roos.
Now, don't get me wrong, we've enjoyed these roosters. They are facinating creatures. We watched as Doodle became the alpha chicken and saw the others fall in line. We studied pecking order by leaving the alpha locked up while the other roamed free and watched how the roos aggressively mated the poor hens. We learned a lot about chickens. It's been a great learning project. We would not, however, choose to raise roosters again. We just want some darn eggs!
We knew from the start that we wouldn't be keeping the roosters, but Kenzie didn't know exactly what we would be doing with them. We didn't want to kill any chickens until she had a chance to say goodbye (she's not good with surprises). We explained how the meat came from the chickens by equating it the meat Dustin gets when he guts a fish. Kenzie has watched him take apart fish many times so we knew she could understand the basics of where the meat came from. We weren't certain, though, how she would react to losing the chickens. They have, after all, been raised as our pets, unlike the anonymous bass that shows up in the cooler after Dustin's been gone for the day.
So, it was with hesitation that we asked her to say goodbye to Doodle (the alpha) and Mean Chicken (the mean one). We were shocked when she ran to the sliding door and in her most playful voice sang out a phrase we have never before heard her say. With great joy she yelled, "Dooooooodle! We're gonna eat you up!" Should we be worried?